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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.

Show Comment - By Joe Elliott 2004

"The legend about us getting bottled off at Reading 1980 is a myth really - we got an encore at Reading. We probably had six or seven bottles of piss thrown up - and maybe a tomato - but it didn't put us off. That 'backlash' was all blown out of proportion. We're living proof that bad reviews make no difference."


Show Story - Fom Animal Instinct

Any remaining jubilation over their American success was killed stone dead at the Reading Festival in late August. Originally founded in the Sixties as a showcase for top English blues, jazz and rock bands, the Reading Festival was almost entirely a heavy metal event by 1980. Iron Maiden, the Ian Gillan Band, Whitesnake, UFO and Budgie were among the metallic monsters booked for Reading that year and Peter Mensch, in what he thought was quite a brainwave, booked Leppard into the second-bill spot on the big Sunday night finale between Ozzy Osbourne and headliners Whitesnake.

Theoretically, it was a good position for the band to show off the stage chops they'd picked up in the States. Instead, Def Leppard got practically canned off the stage. Jealousy over the U.S. success and fears that they were lost to Britain forever turned the tide against Leppard with frightening speed. In addition, fate made a critical play. Just before Reading weekend, Ozzy Osbourne cancelled his appearance; former glam-pop sesations Slade were booked in his place. After topping the British charts throughout the mid-Seventies, Slade had gone into a deep commercial funk for a few years. At Reading, though, they were in the midst of a roaring comeback. And Slade ended up roaring all over Leppard that day at Reading. As Joe puts it, "Slade played all their hits. And we didn't have any."

Def Leppard. in fact, played very well at reading. BBC Radio aired five songs from the band's set on a post festival broadcast. But Leppard playedthat set amid a torrent of vegetables and beer cans. Already psyched up for Whitesnake's neo-Zeppelin thunder-rock. audience energy had been raised to fever pitch by Slade. Def Leppard, caught in the middle, didn't stand a chance. It rained garabge throughout their entire set. Joe was hit in the balls by a full can of beer. Pete Willis recieved a huge chunk of grass and dirt in the face. When they finally left the stage, Def Leppard were, to all intents and purposes, finished in England.

"When the first tomtato and beer can hit the stage, I knew this was it," Peter Mensch confesses. "Def Leppard were happening in America and they were coming back to England where four months before they were doing eighty five per cent in theaters. But to come back following Slade, combined with the fact that people thought we had sold out, that was it, We were gone."

By Zomba Books 1987.


Media Story - By Robin Smith

Angelwitch - on Sunday I had a fantasy that I was standing under a piledriver slowly thumping me into the ground...I'd rather listen to a Joy Division album...Yesiree Sunday afternoon was grit your teeth time, saved only by the Tygers of Pan Tang who are riding on a quiet but respectable cult following. I've reviewed them before and was pretty harsh but now the light is beginning to glimmer at the end of the tunnel.

Girl - loathed by the vast majority of HM fans. Britt Ekland was backstage...

Magnum - rolled out of retirement again...the working Men's Styx...plastic pomp.

Budgie - more dung from the dungeon.

Slade - Where have you been? The most memorable event of Sunday.

Def Leppard - didn't win the crowd...great feeling of resentment against the Lepps...greeted by beer cans and derision. Whitesnake - treated to tedious interludes between Moody and Marsden...Uncle Jon Lord had to do his keyboard bits as well.

By Robin Smith @ Record Mirror 1980.


Media Story - From Two Steps Ahead

Just how badly Def Leppard's perceived defection had gone down was brought home to them at the Reading Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend, 1980. Leppard played on the final day, just before headliners Whitesnake were due to go on. Their abscence had not made the crowd's heart grow any fonder and they were met with a fusillade of cans and plastic bottles filled with recycled waste material (piss...). Joe's memory of the show was, not surprisingly, a vivid one. 'There was just too much hard rock that weekend, there was no sort of contrast. We were one of the last bands on the bill and I reckon anyone, even the most devoted fan of that kind of music would get a bit fed up of it after three days. Probably the worst thing of all for us was having to follow Slade. They were great. They put on an amazing show and went down a storm, played the hits. It was a classic case of "follow that". We did our best but it didn't seem to go too well...I got half a tin of Tartan lager in my bollocks.' Unfortunately, whatever rationale the band tried to hide behind, the facts were stark. The paunchy Elliott and his comrades were now public enemy number one among the metal fraternity, treated as wimped out, sold out fakes. They were no longer welcome on British territory.

By Dave Bowler/Bryan Dray @ Boxtree 1996.


Media Story - From An Illustrated Biography

Meanwhile, backstage at Reading was reporter Geoff Barton, getting himself into an uncharacteristic fury about the turn of events. "I was there when Joe got a can in the balls. I was having an ernormous argument with Peter Mensch. Ross Halfin had wound me up by saying that Leppard had got this stupid American manager who was a real wally. Ross thrives on creating conflict between people and at that time I still hadn't mended fences with Leppard. So I was all ready to give Mensch the sharp end of my tongue, I don't know why.

"I think it was Halfin, who had wound me up so much. I seem to be protraying myself as a rampaging alcoholic but I was drunk once again at Reading. Maybe Halfin had been buying me drinks to watch this confrontation, but I lurched up to Mensch and said. "It's no good, Leppard are going to be booed off stage". I ranted and raved at this guy that they wouldn't be accepted. I can remember my wife standing by me - because I'm not usually like that. She was trying to drag me away. Anyway the band was booed off. I wasn't gratified by that. It was a low point for the band and a hurdle they still have to overcome."

By Chris Welch @ Omnibus Press 1984.


Media Story - From Def Leppard

In August the band returned to the UK for a special guest spot at the annual Reading Rock Festival in Berkshire. There had already been a wave of anti-Leppard feeling among British heavy metal fans, and there were complaints in Sheffield that the band had been hyped, given too much money and had deserted their home town for America. Joe Elliott even got punched when he went back to one of his old drinking haunts. Their homecoming was an unpleasant experience, and it got to be a lot worse when they appeared at Reading.

The 1980 bill included Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, UFO and Budgie. Def Leppard were scheduled to perform between Ozzy Osbourne and Whitesnake on the last night of three days. In the event Ozzy cancelled and was replaced by Slade - a band that had enjoyed huge success among a youn teenage audience in the early seventies.

When it was their turn the compere said: "Let's hear it for Def Leppard!" "Boo!" came the answer from the crowd. "Boo!" It seemed unbelievable. The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was at a peak and here was an entertaining, all British band who had been welcomed with open arms in the States. But this cut no ice with the greasers and bikers who had massed at the festival. Part of the problem was that a vast section of the 40,000 strong crowd been bored by a succession of poor performances by dreary bands like Samson, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Krokus. There were constant outbreaks of beer can throwing which caused serious injuries among the crowd, and the stage area was beginning to look like a World War One battlefield.

Another band, called Girl, who wore make up and looked astonishingly effeminate, were given a particularly hard time. When DJ Bob Harris, a mild-mannered and kindly man, said, "I'd like you to give a warm welcome to Girl...", the response was a cry of "Fuck off!" as the sky darkened with a shower of glasses and cans. While their lead singer Phil Lewis was enraged and their drummer was near to tears, their guitarist, Phil Collen, seemed more philosophical, despite the band going down badly. But he had no way of knowing at the time that in the not too distant future he would find himself no longer a Girl but a Leppard.

After this debacle he next band, Slade - old timers from Wolverhampton - arrived, and it was obvious they knew exactly how to entertain a crowd. Their succession of chart hits like 'Cum On Feel The Noize' won them an ovation. They were going to be a tough act to follow.

Def Leppard climbed up the metal ramp to the stage. They were nervous but felt they shouldn't have much of a problem. They had to fare better than the tedious Tygers and be more appealing to the macho hordes than Girl. But they were loud groans at the very mention of their name.

They played 'When The Walls Came Tumblin' Down', 'Hello America' and 'Wasted', and they played them well. A huge video screen showed the boys in action, with Steve Clark bent over his guitar in agonies of concentration. A considerable section of the audience were impressed and cheers greeted 'Lady Strange'. But when Steve Clark pleaded with the crowd, "Let's hear some noise then", "Fuck Off. We want Whitesnake", was all he got.

While the band excaped the ferocious canning off that Girl had suffered, they had their share of missiles. Joe was hit in the crotch with a full can of beer, a clod of turf crashlanded on Pete Willis' guitar and tomatoes and portions of half-consumed corn cobs fell on the stage at frequent intervals. It was pretty obvious that most of the barriers were Whitesnake fans, and Def Leppard also suffered the disadvantage of not having a history of chart hits behind them - only a reputation as brash newcomers. They went off - after an unwarranted encore - to a chorus of merciless boos.

Bob Harris came out all smiles, with another cheerful cry of "Let's hear it for Def Leppard". His face a picture of astonishment at the chorus of disapproval he received. Meanwhile, backstage, the band's manager Peter Mensch felt that they had suffered a serious setback and should concentrate on America where they were appreciated.

Joe looked back at the incident later and tried to work out what had actually happened.

"It's true we weren't that good, but there were a lot of things going against us. First there was just too much hard rock that weekend. Every band seemed to be a hard rock bacn so there was no contrast. We were on on the last night and one of the last bands on the bill. I reckon anyone, even the most devoted fan of that kind of music, would get a bit fed up with it after three days, especially when you're sitting in a field being belted over the head with it. Probably the worst thing for us was having to follow Slade. They were great. They put on an amazing show and went down a storm. They played all their hits and we didn't have any."

By Jason Rich @ Carlton 1996.